5 Steps to Develop a Detailed Project Plan

A Guide to Avoiding Failed IT Projects

As you will know by now, if you are a reader of my blog, and because I keep reiterating the point to get through to Project Managers I share these stats once again. It is reported by PWC, Forbes, and the Project Management Institute (PMI), a significant portion of IT projects fail to meet their goals and deliver expected outcomes. The reasons for this are various, but on this post I will focus on poor project planning, which often plays a significant role.

However, by following these five key steps, you can develop a detailed project plan that sets your IT project on the path to success:

  1. Define clear objectives: Start by defining the project’s goals and objectives. Make sure they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

2. Gather requirements: Next, gather requirements from stakeholders to understand what they expect from the project. This helps in creating a comprehensive project plan that takes into account all necessary elements.

3. Develop a timeline: Create a timeline that outlines all the tasks and milestones of the project. Make sure the timeline is realistic and takes into account any potential roadblocks.

4. Assign resources: Assign the right resources, including personnel and equipment, to each task. Ensure that the resources you assign are adequate for the task and have the necessary skills and experience.

5. Monitor progress: Regularly monitor progress and adjust the plan as necessary. This helps to keep the project on track and ensures that it stays aligned with the goals and objectives.

By following these five steps, you can develop a detailed project plan that will help you avoid the common pitfalls of failed IT projects. If you need further help or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. And lease comment a you see fit. Do you agree or disagree? Did I miss something ?

5 Steps to Identify and Engage your IT Project’s Stakeholders

I start this post to remind my readers once again about the current state of It Project Management. According to recent studies by PwC and Forbes, bad IT projects are becoming increasingly common, with a reported 75% of IT projects failing to meet their objectives. The Project Management Institute (PMI) also reports that poor stakeholder engagement is a leading cause of project failure.

But, there is hope! By following these five key tips, you can improve your chances of success and ensure that your IT project is a success:

  1. Identify your stakeholders early on. The first step in successful stakeholder engagement is identifying who your stakeholders are. This includes everyone who will be impacted by the project, from your team members and customers to your company’s management and shareholders.

2. Understand their needs and concerns. Once you know who your stakeholders are, it’s important to understand their needs and concerns. This will help you tailor your communication and engagement strategies to meet their specific needs.

3. Communicate effectively. Clear and timely communication is key to keeping stakeholders informed and engaged. This includes regular updates on the project’s progress, as well as addressing any concerns they may have.

4. Involve them in the decision-making process. Stakeholders are more likely to be engaged if they feel like they are a part of the process. Involve them in key decisions and solicit their input and feedback.

5. Show them the value of the project. Finally, it’s important to demonstrate the value of the project to your stakeholders. This includes highlighting the benefits the project will bring and how it will positively impact their work or lives.

By following these five tips, you can increase your chances of success and ensure that your IT project is a success by engaging stakeholders properly . And remember, if you need further help, feel free to reach out to me. And please comment and let me know your thoughts. Do you agree or did I miss something ?

How to Successfully Complete an IT Project in 10 Steps

According to PWC, Forbes, and the Project Management Institute (PMI), a significant number of IT projects fail to meet their goals and objectives. In fact, PWC reports that only 2.5% of IT projects are successful. This is a worrying statistic, but it doesn’t have to be the case for your IT project. By following these 10 steps, you can increase the chances of your IT project’s success.

  1. Clearly define the project’s goals and objectives: The first step in ensuring the success of an IT project is to clearly define the project’s goals and objectives. This will provide a clear and measurable framework for the project, and it will ensure that everyone involved understands what the project is trying to achieve.

2. Identify and engage stakeholders: Another important step is to identify and engage stakeholders. This includes the project sponsor, project team members, and any other individuals or groups that will be affected by the project. Engaging stakeholders early on in the project will ensure that their needs and expectations are taken into account.

3. Develop a detailed project plan: A detailed project plan is essential for the success of an IT project. The plan should include a schedule, a budget, and a list of deliverables. It should also include a risk management plan, which will help to mitigate any potential risks that may arise during the project

4. Assign a dedicated project manager: A dedicated project manager is responsible for overseeing the project and ensuring that it is on track to meet its goals and objectives. The project manager should have experience and relevant qualifications.

5. Communicate and collaborate: Good communication and collaboration are essential for the success of an IT project. Regular meetings, clear communication channels, and a shared project management tool can help to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

6. Monitor progress and adjust as needed: It is important to monitor the progress of the project and make adjustments as needed. This includes keeping an eye on the project’s budget, schedule, and deliverables.

7. Implement a change management process: Change is inevitable in any project, so it’s important to have a change management process in place. This process should be used to evaluate and manage any changes that arise during the project.

8. Continuously gather feedback: Gathering feedback from stakeholders and team members is important to ensure that the project is meeting their needs and expectations. This feedback can also be used to identify and address any issues that arise during the project.

9. Conduct a post-project review: After the project has been completed, it’s important to conduct a post-project review. This review should be used to evaluate the project’s success, identify any areas for improvement, and gather feedback from stakeholders and team members.

10. Continuously improve: Continuously improving the way you manage and execute IT projects is crucial. This includes learning from past projects, staying current with industry trends and best practices, and implementing new tools and technologies.

By following these 10 steps, you can significantly increase the chances of your IT project’s success. If you want to learn more about making your IT Projects succeed or have any questions about the above steps, please do not hesitate to connect with me.

Status Quo Bias, enemy of successful IT Projects

Status quo bias is a dangerous trap that many businesses fall into when it comes to IT project management. This bias refers to the tendency for people to stick with the status quo, even when there are more efficient or effective alternatives available. Unfortunately, this mindset can lead to project dysfunction, wasted resources, and missed opportunities for growth and innovation.

According to a report by PwC, the average IT project has a cost overrun of 27% and a schedule overrun of 22%. Additionally, PMI’s Pulse of the Profession report found that only 64% of IT projects are completed on time and within budget. These statistics highlight the significant impact that status quo bias can have on the success of IT projects.

The good news is that there is a solution to this problem. By recognizing and addressing status quo bias, businesses can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their IT projects. One way to do this is to encourage innovation and experimentation by setting aside budget for research and development. Additionally, businesses can foster a culture of continuous improvement by regularly reviewing and updating their processes and technologies.

Another solution is to hire an experienced IT Project Management Consultant like me ūüôā who can help businesses identify and overcome status quo bias. As an IT Project Manager, I have helped many businesses to identify and address areas of dysfunction, improve project efficiency and effectiveness, and achieve their goals.

In conclusion, status quo bias can be a major obstacle to the success of IT projects. By recognizing and addressing this bias, businesses can improve their project outcomes and achieve greater success. With the help of an experienced IT Project Management Consultant, businesses can overcome this bias and thrive in today’s fast-paced, competitive environment. Let me know your thoughts if you agree or disagree or have more to add to this topic. Comment below as you see fit!

Fog City: a short movie I am helping get made (with your help?)

Fog City

I myself did not become alive, until I discovered my invisibility.” That was the quote from Liam Edward Brady that grabbed my attention. It hit the nail on the head for me. I was at the time in a process of self discovery, trying to understand who I was, coming to terms with turning 40. (I am still on that journey and almost 41 yikes!)

Fog City is an inspired short movie from Director Liam Brady.

The plot: “An amateur ballplayer makes a strange discovery on the beach and spends his otherwise ordinary day navigating a distressing moral gray area.”

Through the movie we follow Jimmy Darcy and how his experiences influence his perspective.

This¬†project¬†came to my attention through Liz O’Neal, a colleague and friend. She announced she was producing the movie. An awesome¬†opportunity¬†for such a bright incisive and intelligent lady. So I figured I’d throw some¬†money¬†at it through Seeds & Sparks, which is being used as a site that helps Independent Movies raise funds to get made. Its a community driven service. I¬†didn’t¬†have that much to throw at it but did what I could.

But the more I read about the movie and talked to Liz about it, the more I wanted to see the movie get made. I wanted to contribute more than money. So now I am acting as an Advisory Project Manager for Fog City. I am assisting in Project Managing by advising on best practices for planning, resources¬†management, budgetary controls. I’m the guy with the Gant Chart. Its’ the boring part, but I am good at it and it helps get the movie made.

What drew me in too was the huge Irish American connection to this movie. The director  Liam, has an Irish passport, Liz is a Irish American and even the lead character has an Irish American background. The United Irish Cultural Center in San Francisco is lending huge support behind the movie.

Now as late as I am to the party I am going to try and get this movie to have its International Premier, in Cork. 

But in order for that to happen the movie has to be made. We have just less than six days left to raise $32,480.

We’re 45% there having raised $15,078.

But we really need help. I would love to see funding come from individuals in Ireland who would like to see this movie made. I appreciate times are extremely tough out there. But for those who can spare $10 or more as a donation or loan ( Seeds and Spark is a pretty flexible way of raising funds) it would be greatly received. Plus you can get anything from a postcard from the set to being named an Associate Producer, depending on ho much you donate or loan.

I do hope we can see funding come from the Irish Community. This is a great movie that has to be made in my view. And if you do help us hit our target on time I promise I will move heaven and earth to have the film have an international premier in Cork .  That would be an awesome culmination of a community based short film. And I am sure Liam, Liz, cast and crew would love the excuse to visit their ancestral home.  Plus I sincerely believe the subject matter will hit home and resonate with a lot of people in Ireland (and around the World) . if you feel as I do please contribute. And thank you for reading this post.

Project Management after the fact: Lessons I have learned

I have recently been addressing an issue of transition I have had with one of my  projects at EMC. I believe this issue affects a lot of people in the tech industry who find themselves entering Project Managment. When do you & your organization turn your project over to operations ?

Lets get some definition of a project for clarity.

A project is a temporary¬†endeavour¬†undertaken, to create a unique product or service”.

So it says on page 14 of my Project Management manual.

It goes on to say:

  • Temporary implies a definite beginning and end. “
  • “Unique implies different from previous work”

So I undertook formal Project Management Certification training in late October of 2012, as we had started to execute on EMC Elect and well after we had established EMC Ask the Expert as a going concern.

And was my head reeling after learning the PMI process in its correct form?

It was.

Did I feel like a bad Project Manager?

Yes.

Did I feel incompetent?

No.  I realized that while I had not followed the  PMI Institutes process to the letter I had still effectively managed the Project to a success.  Particularly as EMC Ask the Expert had ceased to be a project and was now an operational process. I had used common sense, EMC best practices and processes, and had manged the project successfully. But not without pitfalls.

You see I believe I hit the problem most Program Managers have in corporations around the world. Intending to turn your project over to operations but not fully planning it? As in, when exactly that happens or how you manage it? How do you manage turning a project into an operation or part of operations? Especially when you are in an environment where execution is taking place and rather rapidly and continuously across your organization at a fast and sometimes frenetic pace?

Lets look again at what the my manual says about “Projects Vs Operations”

Projects

  • Unique and Temporary
  • Have¬†their¬†own charter, goal and team
  • Driver of Change
  • Delivers a unique product or service
  • Heterogeneous team mix
  • Focus on effectiveness

Operations

  • Repetitive / Ongoing
  • Semi-permanent charter, goal and team
  • Manage “status quo”
  • Delivers Repeat product or service
  • Homogeneous team mix
  • Focus on efficiency”

It’s clear with time and a clear head plus training to see the distinct differences. But really it all can be avoided with planning (and training). Planning is the most important of all Project¬†Management¬†processes. But it seems to be something that suffers the most. Most of us if not all of us know planning is important. But in an execution mind set it can falter. You are working rapidly to bring something to life that will address a unique need. You want it to a be a long living operational piece. But did you set that out as part of your planning?

Planning is obviously where I fell down. Now I am not saying I had no planning. Of course I did. But I never documented in the plan about moving my project to operations. .  It was an assumption without including that in a formal plan in nothing other than a line to say that it would be integrated into eServices Support Community operations.

if 90% of a project Managers time is in communication, it is important to have a complete plan to communicate.

Having realized this following my training ( PMI Institute recognized training, provided by Velopi Ltd through EMC’s education program) I had to address this.

EMC Ask the Expert was an operational process. Furthermore there was another project underway for EMC Ask the Expert , which was a phase II execution. (integrating EMC Ask the Expert into newly launched products and services)  Once I saw the disconnect I had a hard task before me. The project team, was now the managing team for Ask the Expert Operations and Ask the Expert Phase II project and Part of the EMC Elect Project Team.

This caused contention for resources. Not a thing you need to invent for yourself. Hind sight is 20/20 vision. And once you identify a fault you have to address it.

We are in the process of doing so now.

While keeping Ask the Expert operations running, managing the phase II Ask the Expert Project, and Managing the EMC Elect Project,  both Stephanie McBride and I have documented the operational piece of Ask the expert. We also utilized a work break down structure and work packages to communicate with relevant business units,  on how they will integrate Ask the expert Operations into their business operations. We are communicating this out now and integrating it into operations.

This is in all honesty is work we could have done earlier in the project. It actually is now an additional mini project. It is worth the effort to do this however and if you are in this predicament I urge you to look at your project. Is it in fact an operations module now?  What planning have you done to integrate this operations piece to your current operations process? How do you avoid becoming the operations manager? Or have you planned to do that?

These are vital questions to ask, to plan for and to communicate with your stakeholders. It is worth it and in the end you will be a better Project Manager for it.  Your business unit will be more streamlined and robust for it .

I know I am the better for the experience. I also know there is so much more to learn and that no one and can rest on their laurels.

I would hope this helps others in their forays in Project Management. Do let me know your thoughts and feel free to share your stories around the subject. Does your organization suffer with transitioning from Project to Operations?

How do you mitigate and manage the transition?